Corona del Mar High’s J.T. Schwartz planned to play one more high school baseball game with Beckman’s Matt McLain before the two Pacific Coast League rivals joined forces at UCLA.
All that changed on Monday. The next game for McLain won’t be in high school, and most likely not even in college.
The Arizona Diamondbacks took McLain with the No. 25 overall pick in the Major League Baseball Draft. With so much at stake, the slot value is $2.6 million, McLain opted not to play in the Kiwanis Club of Greater Anaheim’s 51st Orange County High School All-Star Baseball Game for seniors on Tuesday night.
With McLain out, Schwartz got the start at shortstop for the South. And Schwartz made the most of it.
Schwartz played almost the entire game at shortstop, and he went one for two with a run batted in, two runs scored and a walk, helping the South beat the North 12-4 at La Palma Park’s Dee Fee Field in Anaheim.
Schwartz, a first-team All-Pacific Coast League selection, and Huntington Beach catcher Nick Lopez, a first-team All-Sunset League selection, were the two local players who started, while Laguna Beach outfielder Grady Morgan, the Orange Coast League MVP, entered the game in the fourth inning. San Clemente’s Jeff Bruyntjens earned the MVP award. He finished three for four with two RBIs and two runs for the South.
Schwartz batted second in the lineup, and right away fans got to see two future Pacific-12 Conference players face one another. Servite’s Christian Ciuffetelli, bound for Oregon, got the start on the mound for the North.
The right-handed throwing Ciuffetelli got ahead of the left-handed hitting Schwartz with a 1-2 count before throwing three straight balls. After walking Schwartz, Ciuffetelli quickly found himself in trouble in the top of the first inning. He gave up a single and a walk, loading the bases with two outs. Schwartz eventually scored on a two-run double down the left-field line by Capistrano Valley left-handed hitter Ryan Daugherty.
Ciuffetelli had control issues at the start of the second inning. He walked El Toro’s Chase Luttrell, then hit Lopez, bound for Abilene Christian University, on the left arm. A 4-6-3 double play helped Ciuffetelli. With a runner on third, Schwartz came up to bat. For the second time in as many at-bats, Schwartz worked the count full against Ciuffetelli. This time, Ciuffetelli got Schwartz out as Schwartz hit a grounder to second.
The South added to its lead in the third and fourth innings. In the third, Aliso Niguel’s Connor Kokx doubled in a run and El Toro’s Nathan Church brought a run in on a sacrifice fly. Crean Lutheran’s Marc Lidd hit a two-run home run to left field, giving the South a 6-0 lead in the fourth.